Axing Audit Commission could affect management
Some housing providers may place less importance on housing management services in the absence of the Audit Commission and reduced regulation, a leading sector figure has warned.
Carol Matthews, chief executive of 49,000-home Riverside Group, said she is concerned about the potential implications for housing management by the abolition of the Audit Commission and the reduced consumer regulatory role of the social housing regulator.
Ms Matthews, speaking at the session Is housing management dead? at the Chartered Institute of Housing Conference in Manchester yesterday (Tuesday), said: ‘I do have a fear that some parts of our sector will retreat from the importance of service because there isn’t a bogey man.
‘The audit commission has gone, the regulator has gone, and I think some people think that ‘good enough’ means ‘good enough’ moving forward.’
Ms Matthews said that the Audit Commission, which the coalition government is planning to axe, had helped tackle complacency.
She said: ‘In other places complacency had set in and people had started to think that they knew what was required.
‘I think the Audit Commission actually did a good job for customers in all our sector in that I think repairs services in particularly were transformed by them, the focus on what was the value of the service being provided, was it actually responding to customers’ needs and customers’ aspirations, was long overdue and it is a shame that we needed them to do that, but actually I think for lots of us our boards needed to hear that from an external challenge.’
The Audit Commission is being wound down, with its audit work being transferred to private companies from September. The new social housing regulator, a Homes and Communities Agency committee, will only now act on tenant service complaints where there is a threat of serious harm to tenants.